This was a game against a friend fairly new to the rules. I attacked and he defended (I was very eager to field a mounted platoon). We used our modified attack/defense-scenario, where there is a time limit (five Turns) for the attacker to win, but apart from morale the attacker can also win by getting a JOP within 12" of the opponents table edge.
In the center (no pictures exist of this fight) I tried to fix as many Germans as possible with two dismounted sections. Then I would be able to make a intrepid flank movement and move up a JOP there to win the game (and teach my friend something about the manoeuvre aspect of CoC).
The mounted platoon deploys on the flank, shielded by a copse and in firm control by its Senior Leader. In the top photo you can see the German response with one squad holding the centre on overwatch and the rest trying to cope with the mounted flank manoeuvre. Will I be able to win this game without casualties?
I deployed a Maxim MMG to protect the flank movement. You can see some pesky Germans popping up behind a fence. The cavalry continues the advance and try to keep some vegetation between themselves and the enemy. I almost succeed (a few horsemen gets hit) but the Maxim has to relocate and hide into the copse to survive.
The mounted section furthest into enemy territory is about to deliver a JOP within 12" of the German table edge. The plan was then to dismount and hide the sections behind the bushes in front of the gardens and houses, prepare a defense there and wait for CoC Dice to end the game! The Germans would then have to counter-attack to win the game.
What happens next is that I could not stick to my plan. Having stopped the cavalry (still mounted, as I had not had the opportunity to dismount yet) behind cover A LONE GERMAN RIFLE-TEAM ventured out from the safety of the gardens to open ground. I calculated the odds and even if I had time on my side and a rifle team was no threat to my (two section) platoon I somehow decided that this was a opportunity I could not miss! Urahhh!!!
This was not to be a waiting game and a mounted charge was about to end it in my favor. I got carried away. Maybe I have some more understanding for my historical counterpart after what was to follow (a Soviet cavalry officer) - I had to carry out a saber charge with my newly painted cavalry!
I have written the rules so that the leytenant (Senior Leader) has to give the command and participate in a mounted charge, so the first section and platoon HQ went of in search of immortality in their regimental history and infinite bragging rights among most other Red Cavalry!
They hit hard, killed off the German rifle team and their leader, accumulating some Shock in the process and left a badly wounded serzhant behind them. So far so good. I was bloodied and moved up the second section (that had left a lone trooper as a one-man Team to move up the JOP, which was also done, ending a Turn now would win me the game) in support, best to follow up the success!
Urahhhh!!! Death to fascism!! Urahhhh!!!
Now it was only to follow up and kill the MG team left in front of the cavalry!
Off they went, but this charge was not as lucky as the first one. The MG team was wiped out in the first round of combat, but the cavalry got so much Shock (equivalent to being Pinned for infantry) that they were forced to fall back into cover. The bold charging was over for their part and I had taken some loss in Morale in the process.
The worst was yet to come. The second section was galloping down the road in search of enemies. Behind a fence a German Senior Leader with MP-40 was presenting himself as a viable target. What I did not calculate was the amount of dice this lone German would generate - a long distance´charge, Senior Leader, SMG, behind cover... he got quite a few dice in close combat! And my opponent threw them well, killing eight(!) cavalrymen in the fight. This forced the section to break off the attack and they went the same way the first section had gone... what was more alarming was the Morale loss for this charge. When the stop-over at the "Bad things happens"-table was done, I had lost the game!
Lessons from the eight game:
This was another game at the club, but it was also a play-test for my Red Cavalry. We chose the Delaying Action scenario, with the Germans as attackers. As Jonas (my opponent for the day!) had just painted a Pz 38(t), I could expect armor support from the attacker. I did not have too much support and the field was quite open so I decided to not use any mounted sections. A bit boring - but this is apparently what you got when you persist in playing cavalry in a (fairly realistic) ww2 game! Expect dismounted action cavalrymen!
No fault with that, CoC is a infantry based game!
For support I took two extra sections to be able to defend the objective (the railroad water tower), a medic, and a couple of extra SMGs to have an edge in the close combat and short range fire fights that I expected in the woods. The light mortar are compulsory in early 41`. Since I expected there to be an enemy tank, I took a 45mm AT Gun to fight off the enemy armor.
I was about to experience the Germans taking two armored vehicles, a Pz 38(t) and a Sd Kfz 222 armored car. My lone light AT gun would have lot of work to do!
The build up of the German attack. Armour along the road (this is CoC you know!) in the centre and an infantry attack on my right flank.
The centre of resistance. A platoon of dismounted cavalry and a medic backed up by a light mortar.
Armoured doom!!! I couldn't (or didn't want to) expose my only anti-tank asset, the 45mm AT Gun, to two German AFVs and their infantry. Instead I tried to lure the panzer into the wood and deploy it there. Or scare the panzer off with imaginary satchel-charges...
My opponent did not care about my thoughts about armor vulnerability and attacked with great audacity. It was fast as well, flat-out closes the distances quickly indeed!
The anatomy of a tank attack and the subsequent retreat. The black dice are smoke markers from a fire in the house (random event), which screened me from fire from the Sd Kfz 222 and some German infantry! Great! But I could not shoot at them either...
I decided to deploy my AT Gun further back. Or I was forced to, as my Jump-Off Point in the central wood was over-run by the Panzer 38(t), and a missed shot in the wood would easily lead to a run over AT Gun, I needed more than one chance to shoot if possible.
Here I got a flank shot, and the Sd Kfz 222 could not respond immediately! Something I was happy about as this gun had to take out both German vehicles! I had severe angst in the deployment (in time and place) of my 45mm gun.
Disaster struck! I needed 5 on two dice to hit... but rolled 4 at this critical moment.
The panzer opens fire and kills several crew members. The commander then realize that maybe he could just - drive it over?
My second shot missed due to a lot of Shock on the ATG.
The subsequent loss of my only AT asset made me give up this game, I had two armored vehicles against me and nothing that could take them out. I had evidently had too high hopes for my lone AT Gun!
Lessons from sixth game
German notes: This game made it pretty obvious that tanks are just innately superior for their points in early/mid war: the moment when I realized that I'd be better off just going full speed ahead with the (comparatively crappy) Pz. 38(t) was telling. The smaller sections of the cavalry platoon also hurt a bit here, as the Germans can put out more shots, but my attack had kind of stalled a bit when my vehicles just broke through and broke the Soviet forces. I didn't even need the 222 to mop up, even though it could have given the coup de grace in case the Soviet AT gun or a satchel charge managed to stop the Pz. 38(t). /Jonas
(Jonas, I did not have any satchel! Thanks for the comment)
Not so much hurrah this time! /Shirty
Once again we ended up with three people at club, and since everyone was eager to playtest our "Hasty Attack" scenario again. It sees two platoons attack a single one, under time pressure. This time I was one of the attackers, and of course I took a cavalry platoon since I now had two full mounted sections and a mounted HQ ready for action! I rolled a 4 for Support, so with a Force Rating of -7 and an enemy with a rating of 0 I had 11 support points to use.
This put me on the spot with some harsh decision-making to do. I ended up taking two mounted platoons and a satchel charge, as I didn't have enough support to get a second Senior Leader to lead the other platoon (or half-platoon... if you want to compare to most other platoons). The dismounted platoon was then without a Senior Leader, as I needed my Senior Leader to do the flank attack with the mounted sections!
My comrade in this attack had an infantry platoon with some support weapons. He was going to make the main attack, and I was going to try to sneak up on our enemies' flank with my mounted sections. From there I could move up a JOP for a "sudden death" victory or attack him at a weak spot to force his withdrawal due to loss of morale.
The game started very well with a hard attack on the left (we got JOPs quite far into the field) and a swift ride by my mounted men on the right flank.
The Red Cavalry advances! First I intended to take my cavalry through the woods, but I changed my mind and opted for speed and flung caution out of the window. That paid off and the Italians were not fast enough to react to my gallop over open ground! It was great to move so many horsemen at the same time. With a Senior Leader at hand you can operate swiftly indeed! (you can actuallty see the Italians trying to reach the house in time in the uppermost left corner of the photo! They were in time to occupy the house - but not to open fire on the mounted cavalry.
The cavalry has hit home. The lone Italian riflemen in the house are routed by the swift concentration of firepower I could put up with my dismounted cavalry (including the amount of hand grenades you may throw with three leaders present). Honestly they only had to deal with 1/4 of the Italian platoon. But, they had the speed to actually carry out the manoeuvre, which ordinary infantry would not have been able to do as quickly, and that left me more than happy with the game! On the other flank, the Soviet attack failed against a flamethrower tankette (let no shadow fall on my comrade - flame-throwing vehicles are totally horrible!), so we lost the game, despite the triumph of the Red Cavalry on the right flank!
The first section has dismounted and started a fire-fight with the Italians in the house. The other section has just arrived and is about to dismount, throwing grenades in the process (there is written evidence of grenade-throwing from horseback as well, but I dismounted first as our rules are not really finished yet)! Notice my horse-holder, who represents the spot where the horses of the dismounted section are stationed.
Lessons from the fifth game:
As I have made rules for dismounting and then mounting again, and for having the Horse-serzhant roaming around with the horses I think it would be nice to have some models representing them. I never got to grips before a friend of mine bought me some Warlord Games "pike & shotte"-horse holders as a gift! Now of course I just had to do it...
I started with picking out three horses (there was four of them). These models are superb, the horses' poses are very natural and realistic. However, they are made for the 17th Century, so I had to convert them a bit. The holder was made from a Wargames Factory plastic Soviet, with some random Copplestone head I had in my bit box and a back-pack and slung carbine from Warlord Games. I gave him some extra hair out of green stuff, and then I had to make him a green stuff cap to hold in his hand, as you can´t be without a hat in the military! The saddles were not of 20th Century stock, so I had to green-stuff them as well.
Basing was carried out with milliput. I use a lot of this on my bases since you want to hide the miniature's molded-on base. Then I put a mix of PVA glue and dirt over it to make a nice texture.
The painted and based horse holder. I added bridles as it just looked wrong without them (original in metal and green stuff). I thought I might never get the chance to use the horse holder on the table top, but they turned up in battle just a couple of days after finishing them!
The second section has a Cossack theme. I painted them the same way as the first section. The only big difference really is the hats (and that some have a cherkeska coat as well) which, as these are Kuban Cossacks, have a red top with a white cross on them. Nice view from above - as when you play a miniatures game!
This is my mounted platoon command, the Leytenant, the horse-serzhant and their horse holder.
The whole mounted platoon in the field.
I painted up a second dismounted section and a Senior Leader as well, to be able to have a full platoon on foot. The small cavalry platoons give you the opportunity to field one mounted and one dismounted platoon in many games (most often when you are the attacker).
I decided to make my second section as Cossacks. Many regular cavalry units seem to have used Cossack regalia as well as the Cossacks' ordinary cavalry gear, so I thought a little mixing would not cause any harm. Funnier to convert and paint Cossacks as well! As I plan to field a mounted platoon I needed a mounted HQ to join them. The HQ will consist of the lieutenant, his horse-holder and the platoons horse-serzhant, the soldier in charge of the horses! First out are the Cossacks, I made one with a ridden down German (Black Tree Design) and one with LMG as every cavalry squad has one:
My mounted HQ was quite straight forward, took the nicest horse to the lieutenant!
And some group photos:
Now I just need to paint them, and I hope that will be my next update!
So far I have made four play-test of my cavalry list for CoC. Here I will tell the tale and something about how I will try to alter the cavalry rules to get them to my, and hopefully other CoC-players liking.
First game, Patrol against the Italian Pasubio division
The first time was against the Italians and it was a great success! We took the Patrol Scenario as we often use it to test out new things. I had a Cavalry platoon with a mounted section, medic and BA-10 armored car as support. My enemy took a 20mm AT-rifle as support. I started out well in the patrol phase where I took three patrol-markers and the Italians four, I also had help of some extra moves from the cavalry special rule. The random point of entry for the patrol markers also favored me. In the end the Italian JOP was stuck together almost in a corner. Quite soon my mounted squad had moved up behind a wood at my right flank while a firefight erupted in the woods in the middle of the table. The Italians sent out a squad over open ground to reinforce this fight, I had only two small sections (my whole platoon that is!) in the fight so getting these Italians (it was an MG "team", that is, in italian, a section with two light machine guns) in would probably had tipped the balance in the italians favor.
Then I got an double phase! Hurrah! Of course I took the chance and charged! I had to roll average on dicing for the movement to get in, and be able to activate the section for both phases, and I did! I hit the Italians in the flank, so they did not get any MG bonus either, the Italians were ridden down to last man but the cavalry also took a several men down. It was so much punishment so the next phase fire from an Italian rifle team made them break, effectively putting the mounted section out of the game as well. Now many questions rose, how do they break and how do they get pinned? We resorted to just use the normal rules for this time but it felt quite uncomfortable, the cavalry are mounted on horses, you just don't lay down on the ground when sitting on a horse!
The rest of the game let me move in my BA-10 to the fight in the middle and break the Italians morale.
Lessons from the first game:
Second game, Delaying Action against German Infantry
I had to attack, in this, to my experience hard fought game for the attacker. But my opponent was new to the game so fair enough! For this scenario I did not take any mounted section as the terrain, in my opinion, was very unfavorable to mounted action, houses, walls and high fences all over the place! I got bogged down early on and never had a chance to get to the objective. I also forgot to use the cavalry special rule in the patrol phase, so effectively I did just play with ordinary infantry but with smaller sections… on the nice end, my opponent was pleased with the game and have started playing CoC himself so good pay of anyway!
Lessons from the second game:
Third game, Patrol-Big Chain of Command against Italians and Germans
My soviet friend played a ordinary rifle platoon. The Italians started with a double phase, threw out the whole platoon (they deploy very fast, due to their WW1-era organization) and charged forward threatening a whole lot of Soviet JOP. The soviet commanders pushed troops on the table as fast as they could and as my comrade in arms was most hard pressed (being opposite ti the Italians) I realeased my mounted section! It had an good target in a Italians rifle "team" (read section if you are not familiar with this fascists from the mediterrainian). The charge was put in place of two reasons, firstly to relive my beleaguered comrade, and secondly to let the Italian player eat his own words as he boasted that "the Italians will never be ridden down again" during the patrol phase. Said and done. Urahh!!!
Bad for me, he had more firepower in the are then first time we met so I took some (calculated) casualties before I hit the Italians. The Italians was eradicated but rolled good and took a lot of horse-men with them. So many that the section then were totally shoot up next phase when I (due to bad movement roll, if I remember right, but that could just be post battle-justification over events that did not evolve as I liked…) was not able to get the riders out of harms way.
I rolled terrible on the "Bad things happen" for this and ended up losing a great deal of moral on the charge.
The rest of the game was very one-handed and when I finally faced the germans, they easily out-shoot me with two sections against my entire platoon… and even if I deployed almost all my support to save the other player he could not got to grips with the Italians, which was on his throat before he even had time to react. My moral dived even deeper in the brief encounter with the germans an we had to give in.
Lessons learned from the third game:
Fourth game, Delaying Action against Italian Pasubio Division
I played the defender, we turned the table and played long-side to long-side to see if the scenario was more balanced (easier for the attacker) then. This was as well our first play-test with mortars, which also had impact on the game. I took three extra sections, one medic and a Maxim as support. I left the mounted section out of two reasons, firstly my Italian opponent had lost a unit to my cavalry the two times we met so he probably thought I would try it again and play cautiously with that in mind. Secondly as I am a little worried that the price of 3 Support for an extra section is to cheep and than you can break the system with spamming small sections…
I rolled very good on my patrol-phase extra moves and had a good opportunity to waste the Italians deployment. I think I botched this as I just pushed all my patrol markers forward 12" and this did not have any serious impact on the game in the end.
This was an very interesting game. The mortar stopped me from deploying (and playing!) effectively and the Italians used their first CoC-Dice, not to let the mortars continue firing over my position but to move a JOP forward and push half a platoon down my throat before i know what happened. I then tried to get the max out of all my extra sections in the fire-fight in the woods but failed to coordinate them properly. A lone section on the flank (moved there to avoid the mortar barrage) was also shot up in an unlucky numbers of 6´s precisely after being rallied and planned to get into the fight with my new reinforcements. The game was in the balance but the Italians better maximization of fire-power and a string of hit and wounded/killed leaders left me loosing the game on morale.
Lessons learned from the fourth game:
To avoid the "lurking with a mounted section behind a barn, killing something important in an suicidal strike"-style of play we felt was encouraged in this rule I thought following was a good idea: Only an Senior leader may order a mounted charge (he gets a Urahhh! special rule for cavalry, thanks Truscott Trotter for this suggestion!) and he has to be attached to one charging section. This puts a Senior leader at high risk, and we felt it´s only proper that an Leutenant takes this decision, a mounted charge in WW2 is such a rare and probably fatal move that an sergeant probably not are entrusted with it´s effectuation.
With the pinning question, I thought as follows: you obviously have problem hiding at the ground when mounted so instead of doing this when pinned you instead break of as if you are routed (fall back 2D6+6) to closest cover (that puts you and your horse out of line of sight, could be the table edge).
A final word about play-testing CoC, it is very hard to get much out of it, or more precisely getting something sure out of it. I think is it´s becuase of the many levels of the game, witch interact with eachother in a way that give you problems to sort out why something really happened as it did. Some levels are true for most table-top games as terrain and army selection, but other are more CoC-specific, as patrol phase and CoC-dice use.
These are my first two painted Red Army Cavalry sections, one mounted and one dismounted:
"On the morning of 23 June 1944 our Combined Mechanized Cavalry Group (III Guards Cavalry Corps and III Guards Mechanized Corps) entered the gap that had been made in the German defences by tank and infantry units. The 2nd Squadron of our regiment was the first to go into battle at Bogushevsk. This squadron, under Guards Senior Sergant Oleinikov, was the regiment's point and suddenly ran into Fritz's defensive perimeter around the town. Olenikov made a bold decision: two sabre platoons dismounted and began a firefight with the Germans, distracting their attention, while Oleinikov and the two remaining sabre platoon bypassed the German defences and stormed them from the rear, on horseback with sabres drawn. The Germans fled in panic."
These were the first two sections, now I only need to paint up two more: one mounted and one dismounted! Then I can field one platoon of each kind at the same time (that is half a squadron, where the squadron has four platoons of two sections each). When dismounting, four men are left behind as horseholders, so the dismounted section fields only eight men. The mounted section is already converted and the dismounted put together so I will hopefully show them off here soon!
As there was (and still is… Warlord games, let's do it!) no 28mm soviet cavalry to buy, I had to convert them. As I had quite a lot of unpainted Copplestone Miniatures Bolshevik and Cossack Russian Civil War cavalry in my miniatures cabinet, I used those. I think it's hard to get better ones for this project anyway. The ammo pouches are maybe outdated for WW2 but you can't get everything. Following conversions were carried out:
The project started out as two five men units for Bolt Action (BA). Unfortunately I never got them painted for when we still played BA, so I have not tested them with that ruleset. I had to do two more to fill up a mounted section for CoC, which is why they are two men short in the picture below.
First cavalry in greatcoats:
And with greatcoats rolled upon the saddle instead (and a group picture):
I also made a dismounted cavalry Serzhant to lead a section when on foot. He got a carbine and sabre! In hindsight, it would maybe have been better to arm him with a SMG as the Serzhants seems to got SMGs already in the Autumn of '41. But then he can substitute a cavalry soldier who shows some initiative instead, and he will be great as junior leader when gaming the period before that.
The body and head is Wargames Factory, arms from Warlords Blitzkrig german set (or possibly their plastic soviets), carbine from Warlords plastic soviet set and the sabre from a Copplestone RCW cavalryman. I am especially pleased with the green stuff strap to the carbine (I carved a bit in the back of the miniature to be able to fit the carbine properly).
Hurahh and welcome to the first Red Cavalry blog post!
I will make some posts on background, modeling, painting and gaming with the Red Cavalry. The focus is on 28mm scale and the ruleset used is Chain of Command (CoC). So why collect and game such a strange force as cavalry in a WW2 game? Mainly because:
Murmurs from parts the gaming group about the usefulness of cavalry in WW2 made me even more into research on the subject. I should show them the usefulness of the saber charge! Especially as I intended to write the rules myself… There was a cavalry list for CoC in Operation Winter Storm but I did not know about it when I started out writing my own. I made an comprehensive list covering all the war that I have used so far, but especially the rules for mounted cavalry still need more playtesting. The list have been posted on the CoC forum ("Soviet Cavalry List" topic) and an updated version will be posted here when I have done more playtesting.
A mounted cavalry platoon. It is such a force I intend to be able to field in CoC (note the tracks in the snow, probably from the photographer!)
Cossack cavalry on parade, somewhere it was stated the picture is from 1937. Probably the first squadron of a regiment. A very wild guess is that the men are from the "1st Zaporozhe Cossack Cavalry Division", a pre-war unit that was formed to the 32nd Cavalry Division in 1938 in the Kiev Special Military District. Cossack units were raised both before and during the war. PROLETAIRER ALLER LÄNDER, VERENIGT EUCH!
Riding in style on an 45mm AT-gun. Cossacks were known to cross water obstacles standing on their swimming horses!